The Poe Museum, located in Richmond, Virginia, interprets the life and influence of Edgar Allan Poe for the education and enjoyment of a global audience.
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum began as an idea that was spearheaded by James Howard Whitty and supported by a group of literary enthusiasts. The Poe Memorial Association was started in 1906 but failed to generate enough public support to start the museum. Ten years later, the group reconvened, intending to use Southern Literary Messenger building (where Poe began his career as an editor) for the project, but because the structure was slated for demolition, they chose to use salvaged building materials instead.
Preservationists Archer and Annie Jones were renting Old Stone House, Richmond's oldest house, as a colonial history museum. The Jones' decided to create a garden and shrine dedicated to Poe on their property and used some of Whitty's salvaged materials for the garden paths and building structure.
The garden was populated with flowers mentioned in Poe's poems and short stories. It also has plants from Poe's mother's grave and foster father's garden. The design of The Enchanted Garden was inspired by his poem "To One in Paradise", the beginning of which is below.
The collection originally consisted of Whitty's collected pieces, and objects donated by Poe's relatives and other collectors. Today the Poe Museum has the most comprehensive Edgar Allan Poe artifact collection in the world! The collection includes Poe's boyhood bed, articles of his clothing, letters, books of his literary works and more. The objects are accompanied by well-researched and comprehensive historic facts and attracts thousands of scholars, teachers, students and literary enthusiasts each year.
The shrine opened April 26, 1922, and was commemorated by a celebration in the Enchanted Garden. The charter members included John Phillip Sousa and railroad magnate Henry Huntington. Its early visitors included Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali.
As the museum's collection grew, three additional structures were added. The third of these, the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building, has an original staircase from one of Poe's boyhood homes.
The Poe Memorial Association reorganized and became the Poe Foundation and has the distinction of being lead by several notable presidents. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, historian Douglas Southall Freeman, guided the museum through the lean years of the Great Depression. He was responsible for changing the name of Poe Shrine to Poe Museum.
Cover photo credit: scotterhigher via Wikimedia